I have tried, oh lordy, how I have tried, to not express my feelings about the Twilight series. One, because I try really hard not to express negative thoughts about books, since they are written by authors, and I, being an author, feel a sort of loyalty to other authors, even ones I have never met. But that loyalty does not extend to the movies (or television shows– you’re lucky you redeemed yourself with that season finale, True Blood) made out of those books by those authors. Thus, our story unfolds.
So, Saturday night, my husband and I were looking for a movie to go to. We wanted to see Zack and Miri Make A Porno, but the showing didn’t start until too late, whittling our choices down to Role Models and Twilight.
I have a theory about movies. There are bad movies, and then there are bad vampire movies. Even the worst vampire movie (Vampire In Brooklyn) is not as bad as the worst movie that doesn’t have vampires in it (Across The Universe). Mr. Jen, knowing this, and thinking that Role Models “looks stupid” (isn’t that the point, Mr. Jen? I mean, really?), said, “Fuck it, let’s just go to Twilight.”
We decided to give it a fighting chance. Mr. Jen has never read the books, owing to the fact that he doesn’t read anything that isn’t about guns or Nazis or WWII or some other kind of historical boring stuff that he will later use to ruin a film I enjoy by saying, “That’s not really accurate.” So, he was going in as a blank slate. I, having read the books, had some pretty basic expectations (vampires, sparkling, etc.), but I pledged to have an open mind. Thousands upon thousands of shrieking fourteen-year-olds can’t be wrong, right?
So, you know how when you’re in a really serious situation, and everyone is being totally serious, and something serious happens that isn’t supposed to be funny, but you can’t help but laugh at it and you have to put your hand over your mouth and bite your cheek because you know that you’re not supposed to be laughing? That was Twilight, the movie, in a nutshell. And it started almost from the very beginning. When Bella stands in the desert, holding a potted cactus and a spade, looking introspective and slightly constipated. When the Cullens show up, looking like they just slathered on their white foundation to head off to a mime performance or Cure concert. When, upon seeing Bella for the first time, Edward looks like he’s about to totally barf all over the biology lab.
No, I’m not kidding. He really does look like he’s about to vomit.
The most ridiculous moments come at the expense of poor Edward, who, while slogging through his painfully lonely immortal life, makes pained expressions akin to someone trying to pass a kidney stone, because it is imperative that the viewer realize he is in pain. Beautiful, beautiful pain. Pain that causes him to act in such a way that a teen girl should think he’s a freak, not a lust object. But that’s the role he’s there to fulfill, and Robert Pattinson does an admirable job of it, even as he labors under a gravity-defying pile of hair and perfectly sculpted eyebrows that would make Peter Gallagher weep at their thickness. When he first stepped on screen, at least five teenaged squeals rent the silence of the theatre.
His vampire clan is just as laughably unsubtle. They glower at the humans and slink around with superiority complexes on par with super models prowling the dressing rooms at Lane Bryant. How has no one else in town figured out that they’re vampires? And how come no one calls CPS on these “foster parents” who allow their wards to get all humpy with each other?
But the deepest flaw in the movie is the fact that, despite breathless close-ups and a kissing scene hot enough to titillate the moms of the swooning fourteen-year-olds queuing up for repeat viewings, Bella and Edward never seem to achieve any sort of chemistry. And it isn’t the fault of the actors, but the screenplay. The characters behave like clumsy and beautifully tortured paper dolls, respectively, going through the motions as if they know they’re going to fall in love simply because the story calls for it.
There were good points about Twilight. I’m sure there were. I remember beautiful cinematography (if some of the close-up shots got occasionally dizzy and tilty like a college rock video), and really liking Kristen Stewart’s hair. But the rest of it was an utter disappointment. There were no fangs, unless you count Jacob Black’s bizarrely elongated canines, almost no blood, and no real sense of danger when the villains finally show up. Again, the characters act with no urgency, as if trusting the screenwriter to get them out of their predicament. By the time Bella and Edward were getting all necky on the dance floor at prom, I actually began to wonder if all vampires were this boring, and began making a list of movies I planned to watch when I got home. Movies where vampires have fangs, and drink blood, and have some kind of element of danger to them that is not limited to really fast games of baseball and walking in slow motion to a distortion-laden alternapop song.